The White Cloud

By Hannah Flagg Gould

What next—what next, thou changeful thing,
With the feathery breast and the silver wing,
That seem’st, like a lonely bird, to fly
To some distant home, o’er the clear, blue sky?
I saw thee suspended, a moment ago,
By a hand unseen, like a wreath of snow,
Withheld from a fall that might give it a stain
So deep it could never be blanched again.
And once thou hast shown in a cluster of flowers,
Pure as if bent from the heavenly bowers,
Defying this valley of shadow and blight
To sully or wither their leaves of light!
I’ve seen thee, too, pass over my head,
Like a beautiful ship with her sails all spread,
That, laden with treasures too pure and bright
For an earthly touch, or a mortal’s sight,
Was proud to some far-off port to bear
Her viewless riches through seas of air!
Again—thou hast seemed as the spirit of love
His mantle had dropped from the realms above,
And ‘t was floating along, as a sign, to show
To those who should look from the world below,
That their garments must be of a spotless white
Before they can enter a world of light!
Beautiful changeling! now—even now,
I see thee dissolving, I know not how—
Thine atoms are scattered, and, one by one,
Melted and lost in the rays of the sun!
Vapor deceitful! cloud of the morn!
Like thee are the hopes that of earth are born!
Their forms are varying, high and fair;
But melted by light—rent in pieces by air!
Bright vision of falsehood, thou shalt teach
The soul, in her search for joys, to reach
To a world of truth, where deceit is o’er—
Where changes and clouds shall be known no more!

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